Rice 50-North Texas 49 (PDF Box Score)
DENTON, Texas - The Rice Owls women's basketball team extended their winning streak to six straight games by defeating the North Texas Mean Green 50-49 in the final seconds of the C-USA opener Friday evening in Denton.
Rice (11-2, 1-0) was led offensively by senior guard Wendy Knight (13 points) and junior guard Nicole Iademarco (13 points) while redshirt sophomore guard Erica Ogwumike fell just short of a double-double with nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
"It was great to be able to begin conference play with a win on the road," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "I'm proud of the grit our team showed tonight."
The Owls limited North Texas (9-5, 0-2) to just 29 percent shooting, including a 21 percent performance from the three-point line. Rice went 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 1:06, including a 4-for-4 performance from Ogwumike. The redshirt sophomore gave Rice the lead for good with just one second remaining when Iademarco delivered her a perfect inbounds pass near the basket and the Cypress, Texas was fouled and calmly made the game-winning free throws.
The thrilling victory added to the recent history of close games between the Owls and Mean Green, marking the seventh straight game in the series that went into overtime or was decided by five points or less.
In the opening quarter Knight scored eight of the Owls 15 points by making 3-of-4 shots from the floor, including both attempts from beyond the arc. Knight's second long ball of the quarter gave Rice a 15-5 lead before the Mean Green scored the final five points of the period.
The Mean Green limited the Owls to just six points in the second quarter and managed to enter the half tied 21-21, just the third time all season Rice entered the break tied or trailing.
Rice closed the third quarter on a 6-2 run behind one of Iademarco's three made three-pointers and won the period 14-10 to take a 35-31 advantage to the fourth quarter. Iademarco extended her mark to 13 straight games with at least one made three-pointer.
The Owls created a bit of cushion in the opening minutes of the final quarter thanks to a 9-0 run in which Knight pushed the lead to 44-32 with a made three-pointer at the 5:41 mark. However, the Mean Green responded with an 11-0 run of their own and pulled to within 44-43 after a layup from Deja Terrell.
After a pair of Gabrielle Stanton free throws extended the Rice lead to 46-43, Terrell came up with a steal and score to bring the Mean Green within 46-45 (0:39-4th). The Owls then committed a turnover, and out of a timeout North Texas took the lead for the first time all night on a Terriell Bradley layup with 11 seconds left.
Out of a Rice timeout, Ogwumike was fouled by the Mean Green before the inbounds pass and made a pair of clutch free throws to put the Owls back up 48-47. Bradley responded back by drawing a foul with just two seconds remaining and made both free throws, putting North Texas back in front, 49-48. Ogwumike would then deliver the game-winning free throws with one second remaining for the Owls.
The Owls will look to run their win streak to seven straight games for the first time since the 2005-06 season when they host the UTSA Roadrunners on Sunday at 2 p.m. from Tudor Fieldhouse.